Pairing: Stephen Fry/Hugh Laurie
Rating: R, I guess
Word Count: Approximately 1500
Summary: Hugh reacts to Stephen’s account of their meeting
Author's Notes: You may want to read/re-read Chapter One, The Beginning first because this is Hugh’s reaction to that and it won’t make much sense if it isn’t fresh in your mind. Humble gratitude as always to my beta-love Essie, the best beta (and friend) a girl could ever hope for. Fact and fanon checking (and helpful feedback) provided by the goddess of all things Hugh and Stephen, notatracer. Encouragement, handholding, and feedback by rivers_bend, ennui_blue_lite and libertine_68. Apologies to The Moody Blues for stealing their line for the title.
Disclaimer: As far as I know, never happened. And I only wish they were mine.
Feedback: is like oxygen.
18 April 2008
Los Angeles, California, United States
Here I am, writing another of these bloody endless letters to you that I will never work up the balls to post. I've got quite a collection going. I wonder if Jo will ever find the ones at our place in London. I wonder if I half hope she will. But that's neither here nor there. I've just finished reading the first chapter of your new manuscript - your version of our meeting, and I found that I had something to say about it:
You bastard. You bloody, buggering, smug, self-serving bastard.
Where do I begin? You said you fell in love with me when we met. Well, by the time we met, Stephen, I was already more than halfway in love with you.
I knew you by reputation, naturally - everybody did. You were famous, or perhaps infamous, at Cambridge - your wit, intelligence and charm, or your pomposity, pretention and self-centeredness, depending upon whom was asked. You always were divisive. And, of course, you were famous for your sex life. Everyone knew you were homosexual, of course - you were not only open about it, you positively flaunted it.
I admired that tremendously, you know - your ability to be who you were, what you were, and damn the consequences and anyone who didn't like it. That was before I found out that it was all an act, that you were as much a fraud as I am. But in those days, before I even knew you, I thought you hung the moon. I wanted to be you, and failing that, I wanted desperately to be close to you, to be with you, just to exist in your orbit.
You were enthralling. I had never seen anyone as talented as you, or as charismatic. You were effortlessly funny, and of course astoundingly brilliant. You were mysterious - there were rumors that you had been to prison for some unknown but doubtless exciting and romantic act, and there were at least a dozen stories circulating at any given time about what that act might have been. Even your background was provocative - a Jew, it was whispered, half in fascination and half with anti-Semitic contempt.
I, on the other hand, was and am as thoroughly average as it is possible to be, your excrutiatingly over-flattering descriptions of me notwithstanding. Average face, average body, average intelligence, average personality. I am the standard British everyman. I am a chameleon. I am nobody.
Enough maudlin self-pity - my point was that you were most emphatically not nobody. And I wanted just to be near you, to bask in your reflected radiance.
I managed, finally, to talk Emma into introducing us. She resisted, you know. I think she realised, even then, how I felt about you and was trying to protect me. Women, I firmly believe, are wiser than men. But eventually I convinced her to introduce us, as you said, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1980.
As soon as you looked at me I felt the charge between us. I had never been on the receiving end of such flatteringly intense interest before, and I admit it went straight to my head. Both of them, actually. You were interested in me - not just in my body, I thought, but in me. You laughed at all of my jokes, you approved of the books I'd read, you wanted to know my thoughts and opinions, and you actually took them seriously.
And equally obviously you wanted me. Jesus, Stephen, you were as hard as a brick and nearly as big. No one could've missed it.
I’d never been with a man before you, you know. Well, of course the odd bit of fooling around at school - that goes without saying. But to actually pick up or be picked up by another bloke at a party and slip into a cupboard for a bit of slap-and-tickle? Never. My father would have died, or killed me. He once caught me jerking off to a sporting magazine - some photograph of a shirtless rugby player or the like - and I’ve never been able to forget the look of utter disgust on his face. I knew then that however big a disappointment I was to him, I could fall still further in his opinion, and I dreaded that. From that point on, I limited my romantic attentions solely to women. That was until I met you, and it all went to hell.
I couldn’t have resisted you if I’d wanted, and I didn’t want to anyway. I was dying just to touch you, to have your hands on me. Our five minutes in that coat cupboard was the most sublime sexual experience of my young life. Do you even remember what you said to me as we stood there together, having just given each other a - for me, at least - mind-blowing orgasm? I was wondering if now was the point that we kissed, or whether I should just vow my undying devotion to you and be done with it. You said in a voice cool with disdain and rich with amusement, “Well, that wasn't altogether unpleasant.”
I thought I would vomit, or die of humiliation. Possibly both.
I don’t even remember how I got myself out of there, or anything about the rest of the night. I knew I promised myself that I would never put myself in that position again - to be hurt - to be humiliated - like that by you. That was only the first of countless promises that I have broken on account of you.
I also swore to myself that I would never make any effort to see you again, and that promise lasted about as long as the rest of them. I sought you out in your rooms the next day - just to see you, to see if maybe I wasn’t totally alone in how I was feeling.
You didn’t remember our encounter. Stephen, you didn’t even remember my name. Or so I thought, until I read your manuscript thirty years later, you complete and utter arsehole. Thankfully, I somehow managed to hang on to some shreds of dignity and we actually began a discussion. Thus was born our relationship - the most twisted, intense, rewarding, suffocating, confusing, overpowering, miraculous thing in my life, then or now.
Why couldn’t you have been honest with me? Why couldn’t you have admitted that you wanted me, that you - dare I say it - loved me? Why will you never make yourself even the slightest bit vulnerable, even to me, even now? You’d like to present our story as if I were the one to break your heart and walk away from you into the arms of a woman. Stephen, you always kept me out, always pushed me away. You wanted me to give everything of myself to you, and you wanted to give nothing real of yourself to me, nothing that could ever be used to hurt you. When I asked you if I should marry Jo, after I found out that she was pregnant, I was longing for you to say no, that I should stay with you always, that I could support Jo in her decision but that I didn’t have to tie myself to her for the rest of my life. Instead, you just looked at me, raised an eyebrow, and said you were sure that I’d do the right and proper thing. I often wonder, Stephen, how our lives would have been different if you had been able to tell me the truth, to tell me what you really wanted from me, needed from me, just once.
But I digress. Back to your manuscript.
You said that you had night after night of erotic dreams, each one different. I had only one dream, and it was the same each night. You looked at me with your expressive and anguished eyes, and asked me why. Why I could not admit what we had, why I would not be with you openly, why I cheated on you with an endless parade of girls, why I couldn’t just accept your devotion and be happy. I had no answers for you. I still don’t. But that dream tormented me, and I dreaded going to bed each night because I knew you would be there, waiting for me, asking why. You deserved so much more than I gave you. But damn it, I deserved more than you gave me too.
And now here we are, middle-aged, one of us balding, the other going soft round the middle, and still neither of us can acknowledge what we have. Still giving each other mind-blowing orgasms every chance we get and still not admitting what we are to each other, publicly or privately. Still hurting each other in so many ways, subtle and deep.
And yet, despite it all, I love you, you insufferable sodding git. Always have, always will. Bastard.